2012 – Susan LePeau DeCostanza
Susan LePeau DeCostanza’s commitment to public service and passion for helping children began long before she attended law school. After graduating from Boston College, Susan spent two years volunteering in Peru, where she created and implemented a literacy program for women and children and taught a class for youth. Upon returning to Chicago, Susan devoted nearly two years to teaching at a Chicago Public School elementary school. Her unwavering commitment to public service continued while at DePaul University College of Law, where she co-founded DePaul’s innovative Journal for Social Justice, served as DePaul’s Career Services Public Interest Coordinator, and sought out summer internships at legal aid organizations, including Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation (CVLS).
With this background, it is no surprise that today Susan is a dedicated staff attorney at CVLS, where she remains committed to advocating for children and is an invaluable teacher for CVLS’ many volunteer attorneys. At CVLS, Susan primarily serves as guardian ad litem for children in contested minor guardianship cases and for adults with alleged disabilities. These cases require Susan to be the eyes and ears of the court and to exercise superior judgment in determining what is in the best interest of the vulnerable clients she safeguards. Referring to Susan as an excellent attorney and “true believer,” colleagues and volunteers comment on Susan’s outstanding character and integrity, thoughtful insight, and caring and patient demeanor with clients.
Susan’s dedication to the community she serves extends well beyond her work at CVLS. Susan and her family moved to Brighton Park, a non-gentrified neighborhood on the Southwest Side of the city, and have made a commitment to live there for at least five years. A motivating factor for the move was Susan’s desire to align her professional life and home life—she wanted to become neighbors with people in similar life situations as her clients. Susan’s family has grown to love their new home, and the Anderson Fellowship will help Susan continue to serve others.